It is imperative to limit global warming below 1.5°c

By Teboho Polanka. Social Worker, Writer & Inspirational Speaker. Passionate about Christocentric missions.

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Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Evidently we now live in a world posed by continued threats of monstrous climate change. And this is a two-way street; either we eliminate rising temperatures in our environment or they annihilate all forms of life known to us.

We’ve been neglecting the urgency of taking action against global warming for way too long, and failure to act now will be to our own demise. Climate change has silently made abode amongst us and will spare none of us if left unattended.

Global warming has shown its attitude towards life. We’re all witnesses to how El Nino droughts and floods bred by global climate change continue to destroy and further complicate life for most living beings. We have to join hands and declare war on global warming as soon as now or else many lives will be snuffed out by too much heat and floods for those in coastal areas.

It is generally understood that we, through our human activities, have and still contribute in propelling global warming. This can be seen through combustion of fossil fuels and use of products containing chlorofluorocarbons, activities which are unfriendly to the ozone layer that regulates direct sun rays.

This has been going on for quite some time now and we must figure out ways of repairing the damages we’ve caused. This will be a joint effort, as we curb further deterioration of our ozone layer through reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The good news is that, given the capacities we have on the international scale, we can still manage to mitigate the risk of global warming temperatures rising above 1.5°c. I fear that failure to act now, as postulated by the IPCC, will render our future attempts futile and void even with much larger investments in mitigation.

We’ve all witnessed what rising temperatures can do to life. Haven’t we? I personally support the idea that it is imperative to limit the temperature below 1.5°c, which may at least buy us some time for recovery.

As anticipated by the IPCC, delays in emission reductions over the coming decades will increase overall costs and will limit the flexibility of future policy preferences for shifting between shares of technological options. At some point it will no longer be feasible to achieve high, or even more modest, probabilities to hold warming below 2°c.

Given these predictions, it becomes clear that our negligence will be costly for us and future generations. My plea is that our governments should find ways now to fiercely pursue the 1.5°c as a preferred state of affairs.

The worst case scenario, of course, would be a future characterized by scorching heat coupled with floods that will be inevitable if we turn a blind eye to carbon dioxide being excessively fed into the atmosphere. Unchecked excesses in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will mean reign of unparalleled terror on all forms of life.

According to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC), an important principle is “Common but differentiated responsibility”. Common responsibility stipulates that every nation should make efforts to protect the global environment. Differentiated responsibility holds that different nations may contribute to environmental protection based on their own capacities.

The following are perhaps the most promising initiatives that can be undertaken by our governments as a way of fighting back against global warming. Before anything else, it is important to note that the ultimate goal should be the mitigation of all disastrous activities that led us down this perilous road in the first place.

However, in the meantime government bodies can pursue adaptation. Adaptation is said to encompass all activities with a goal of increasing defense and recovery capacity. It can help in reducing pressure from emissions and eventually buy us the time required for transformation to low-energy modes of production.

First lets consider the course of diverting to 100% renewable energy as a way forward. Energy sources should be diversified as opposed to the deadly dependence on energy imports from fossil fuel markets. Our intensive use of petroleum products and combustion of the likes of coal has led to the destruction of the ozone layer thus it is necessary to opt for more ozone-friendlier forms of production.

In reducing carbon dioxide resulting from combustion of coal, governments can opt for hydroelectric power, solar power and wind power in manufacturing facilities. A typical example is of Germany: Heliatek has expanded its Dresden solar PV factory and Siemens which has opened its offshore-wind turbine factory.

Also according to IPCC fifth assessment, “Combining bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) offers the prospect of energy supply with large-scale net negative emissions, which plays an important role in low stabilization scenarios”.

Let’s together consider ways on how we can deal with the influence vested in fossil fuels.

 

CARBON SEQUESTRATION

Coupled with concentrated efforts towards reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, governments can equally consider carbon sequestration by land and ocean. This is said to have the capacity to help in offsetting 33% of total industrial carbon emissions.

Annual change of plant productivity directly controls annual change in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Therefore, exploring carbon sequestration capacity of the earth system itself can play an indispensable role in slowing the global warming as concluded by GuanHua, QuanSheng, Peng, XiuQi, Bangbo, Bin, Yong & Bing in their work.

 

GEOENGINEERING

GuanHau et.al., maintain that geoengineering has also been noted as an effective measure to retard global warming. This is an artificial large-scale approach to slow or offset the warming effects via altering the energy balance of earth surface radiation or reducing the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Governments should devise integrated assessments on the effects of geoengineering through which to develop schemes for addressing global change issues.

 

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

The purpose of this system is to capture carbon dioxide from combustion process, compress and transport it to a suitable site and store it on a permanent basis. Michiel et.al discovered that this technological process prevents the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, in the ideal case permanently eliminating its potential contribution to global warming.

Equally important, strengthening scientific research can help in finding new ways of curbing global warming and keeping it below 1.5°c. This is because scientific research will help in reducing uncertainties in our understanding of global change. The findings will then inform climate policymakers for reliable policies and future projections.

One other means to consider is developing emission reduction plans. Governments should demonstrate a collective determination in coming up with schemes for reducing the use of fossil fuels.

This will involve utilization of vegetation cover and use of renewable energy sources, as a way of minimizing fuels that emit carbon dioxide. Governments should also share and elaborate on common objectives.

 

But now, the readily available means in fighting global warming are the natural climate solutions such as deforestration. Deforestration has led to the accumulating of carbon dioxide and to reverse that more forests should be planted.

It would however be virtually impossible to have bigger forests without protecting their ecosystem. Afforestation will also help with purifying the air and repair of the environmental damage caused by climate change.

Many developing countries, like Lesotho, have a poor ecological environment and lack of vegetation cover. In cases like this, recovering vegetation cover can help in the absorption of carbon dioxide and thereby facilitate in counteracting global warming.

Promoting fundamental transformation of production modes and human lifestyles in pursuit of resource-saving and environment-friendly societies like in China can help in limiting temperatures to below 1.5°c.

The information above shows the necessity and possibility for limiting global warming at 1.5°c. This is a case of emergency, it involves life and death and will brook no delay.

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Teboho Polanka
Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.